Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

Or else three, or two, if there be no more ; and if there be none of these at all in some lecture, yet not omit the order, but write these :

SDiversa nulla,

2 Contraria nulla, &c. This diligent translating, joined with this heedful marking in the foresaid Epistles, and afterward in some plain Oration of Tully, as pro Lege Manilia, pro Archia Poeta, or in

those three ad C. Cæsarem, shall work such a right choice of words, so straight a framing of sentences, such a true judgement, both to write skilfully and speak wittily, as wise men shall both praise and marvel at.

If your scholar do miss sometimes, in marking rightly these foresaid six things, chide not hastily; for that shall both dull his wit, and discourage his diligence; but monish him gently; which shall make him both willing to amend and glad to go forward in love and hope of learning.

I have now wished twice or thrice this gentle nature to be in a schoolmaster. And that I have done so, neither by chance, nor without some reason, I will now declare at large, why, in mine opinion, love is fitter than fear, gentleness better than beating, to bring up a child rightly in learning

With the common use of teaching and beating in common schools of England, I will not greatly contend, which, if I did, it were but a small grammatical controversy, neither belonging to heresy nor treason, nor greatly touching God nor the prince; although in very deed, in the end, the good or ill bringing up of children, doth as much serve to the good or ill service of God, our prince, and our whole country, as any one thing doth beside.

I do gladly agree with all good schoolmasters in these points; to have children brought to good perfectness in learning, to all honesty in manners, to have all faults rightly amended, to have every vice severely corrected: but for the order and way, that leadeth rightly to these points, we somewhat differ. For commonly many schoolmasters, some as I have seen, more as I have heard tell, be of so crooked a na. ture, as, when they meet with a hard witted scholar, they

There are but two Orations properly ad C. Cæsarem, viz. pro Q. Ligurio, et rege Deiotaro : the third is easily understood to be that pro M. Marcello.

rather break him than bow him, rather mar him than merd him. For when the schoolmaster is angry with some other matter, then will he soonest fall to beat his scholar; and though he himself should be punished for his folly, yet must he beat some scholar for his pleasure, though there be no cause for him to do so, nor yet fault in the scholar to deserve so. These, you will say, be fond schoolmasters, and few they be that be found to be such. They be fond indeed, but surely over many such be found every where. But this will I say, that even the wisest of your great beaters, do as oft punish nature as they do correct faults. Yea, many times the better nature is sorer punished. For, if one by quickness of wit take his lesson readily, another by hardness of wit taketh it not so speedily; the first is always commende ed, the other is commonly punished : when a wise schoolmaster should rather discreetly consider the right disposition of both their natures, and not so much weigh what either of them is able to do now, as what either of them is likely to do hereafter. For this I know, not only by reading of books in my study, but also by experience of life abroad in the world, that those which be commonly the wisest, the best learned, and best men also, when they be old, were never commonly the quickest of wit when they were young. The causes why, amongst other, which be many, that move me thus to think, be these few, which I will reckon.

Quick wits commonly be apt to take, unapt to keep; * soon hot, and desirous of this and that; as cold, and soon weary of the same again; more quick to enter speedily, than able to pierce far; even like over-sharp tools, whose edges be very soon turned. Such wits delight themselves in easy and pleasant studies, and never pass far forward in high and hard sciences. And therefore the quickest wits commonly may prove the best poets, but not the wisest orators; ready of tongue to speak boldly, not deep of judgement, either for good counsel or wise writing. Also for manners and life, quick wits commonly be, in desire, newfangled ; in purpose, unconstant; light to promise any thing, ready to forget every thing, both benefit and injury; and thereby neither fast to

* Thus Aristotle, most admirably describing the nature of youth: Ευμετάβολοι δε, και αψίκοροι προς τας επιθυμίας και σφόδρα μεν επιθυμούσι, ταχύ δε παύονται, οξείαι γαρ αι βουλήσεις, και ου μεγάλαι, ώσπερ αι των καινόντων δίψαι και πείναι, Rhet. 2. cap. 12.

friend, nor fearful to foe: inquisitive of every trifle, not secret in the greatest affairs ; bold with any person; busy in every matter; soothing such as be present, nipping any that is absent: of nature also, always Hattering their betters, envying their equals, despising their inferiors; and by quickness of wit, very quick and ready to like none so well as themselves.

Moreover, cominonly, men very quick of wit be also very light of conditions; and thereby very ready of disposition to be carried over quickly, by any light company, to any riot and unthriftiness when they be young; and therefore seldom either honest of life, or rich in living when they be old. For quick in wit, and light in manners, be either seldom troubled, or very soon weary, in carrying a very heavy purse. Quick wits also be, in most part of all their doings, over quick, hasty, rash, heady, and brainsick. These two last words, Heady and Brainsick, be fit and proper words, rising naturally of the matter, and termed aptly by the condition of overmuch quickness of wit. In youth also they be ready scoffers, privy mockers, and ever over-light and merry: in age, soon testy, very waspish, and always over-miserable. And yet few of them come to any great age, by reason of their misordered life when they were young; but a great deal fewer of them come to show any great countenance, or bear ány great authority abroad in the world, but either' live obscurely, men know not how, or die obscurely, men mark not when. They be like trees, that show forth fair blossom and broad leaves in spring-time, but bring out small and not long lasting fruit in harvest-time; and that only such as fall and rot before they be ripe, and so never, or seldom, come to any good at all. For this you shall find most true by experience, that, amongst a number of quick wits in youth, few be found in the end either very fortunate for themselves, or very profitable to serve the commonwealth, but decay and vanish, men know not which way; except a very few, to whom peradventure blood and happy parentage may perchance purchase a long standing upon the stage:

The which félicity, because it cometh by others' procuring, not by their own deserving, and stand by other men's feet, and not by their own, what outward brag soever is borne by them, is indeed of itself, and in wise men's eyes, of no great estimation.

Some wits, moderate enough by nature, be many times marred by overmuch study and use of some sciences, namely,

music, arithmetic, and geometry. These sciences, as they sharpen men's wits overmuch, so they change men's manners over-sore, if they be not moderately mingled, and wisely applied to some good use of life. Mark all mathematical heads, which be only and wholly bent to those sciences, how solitary they be themselves, how unfit to live with others, and how unapt to serve in the world. This is not only known by common experience, but uttered long before by wise men's judgement and sentence. Galen saith, “ Much music marreth men's manners ;' and Plato hath a notable place of the same thing in his books de Repub. well marked also, and excellently translated by Tully himself. Of this matter I wrote once more at large, twenty years ago, in my * book of Shooting: now I thought but to touch it, to prove that overmuch quickness of wit, either given by nature or sharpened by study, doth not commonly bring forth, either greatest learning, best manners, or happiest life in the end.

Contrariwise, a wit in youth that is not over-dull, heavy, knotty, and lumpish; but hard, tough, and though somewhat staffish, (as Tully wisheth, otium quietum non languidum, and negotium cum labore, non cum

periculo,) such a wit, I

say, if it be at the first well handled by the mother, and rightly smoothed and wrought as it should, not overthwartly, and against the wood, by the schoolmaster, both for learning and whole course of living, proveth always the best. In wood and stone, not the softest, but hardest, be always aptest for portraiture, both fairest for pleasure, and most durable for profit. Hard wits be hard to receive, but sure to keep; painful without weariness, heedful without wavering, constant without newfangleness ; bearing heavy things, though not lightly, yet willingly; entering hard things, though not easily, yet deeply; and so come to that perfectness of learning in the end, that quick wits seem in hope, but do not in deed, or else very seldom, ever attain unto. Also for manners and life, hard wits commonly are hardly carried, either to desire every new thing, or else to marvel at every strange thing; and therefore they be careful and diligent in their own matters, not curious and busy in other men's affairs; and so they become wise themselves, and also are counted honest by others. They be grave, steadfast, silent of tongue, secret of heart: not hasty, in making, but constant in keeping any promise ; not rash in uttering, but wary in consider

* See page 70.

ing every matter; and thereby, not quick in speaking, but deep of judgement, whether they write or give counsel in all weighty affairs. And these be the men, that become in the end both most happy for themselves, and also always best esteemed abroad in the world.

I have been longer in describing the nature, the good or ill success, of the quick and hard wits, than perchance some will think this place and matter doth require. But my purpose was hereby plainly to utter, what injury is offered to all learning, and to the commonwealth also, first by the fond father in choosing, but chiefly by the lewd schoolmaster in beating, and driving away the best natures from learning. A child that is still,

silent, constant, and somewhat hard of wit, is either never chosen by the father to be made a scholar, or else, when he cometh to the school, he is smally regarded, little looked unto; he lacketh teaching, he lacketh encouraging, he lacketh all things, only he never lacketh beating, nor any word that may move him to hate learning, nor any deed that

may

drive him from learning, to any other kind of living.

And when this sad natured and hard witted child is beat from his book, and becometh after either student of the common law, or page in the court, or servingman, or bound prentice to a merchant, or to some handicraft, he proveth, in the end, wiser, happier, and many times honester too, than many of these quick wits do by their learning.

Learning is both hindered' and injured too, by the ill choice of them that send young scholars to the universities; of whom must needs come all our divines, - lawyers, and physicians. These young

scholars be chosen commonly, as young apples be chosen by children in a fair garden about St. James's tide: a child will choose a sweeting, because it is presently fair and pleasant, and refuse a runnet, because it is then green, hard, and sour; when the one, if it be eaten, doth breed both worms and ill humours; the other, if it stand his time, be ordered and kept as it should, is wholesome of itself, and helpeth to the good digestion of other meats. Sweetings will receive worms, rot, and die on the tree, and never or seldom come to the gathering for good and lasting

For very grief of heart I will not apply the similitude but hereby is plain seen, how learning is robbed of the best

store.

« PreviousContinue »